Winter Gardens Theatre
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The Winter Gardens Theatre opened in 1908 in the building known as Alexandra Hall in New Brighton, near Wallasey, Merseyside. That building was demolished around 1931 and in the same site a new Winter Garden Theatre was built. Reopened on June 27, 1931, the new theatre was designed by T. Taliesin Rees and R. Holt. It was designed for use as a live theatre, but was equipped with a projection box.
In 1936 it was equipped with the latest projection equipment and a Western Electric(WE) sound system and opened for ‘a short cinema season’ on 4th May 1936 with Conrad Veidt in “The Passing of the Third Floor Back”. Two weeks later it was closed for modernisation. It re-opened 1st June 1936 with stage productions, followed by films followed from October until January 1937.
At the end of 1939 it was equipped with new Kalee 11 film projectors and a RCA sound system. It also now boasted a Compton ‘Theatrone’ electric organ, which had been transferred from the Regal Cinema, Birkenhead. It re-opened 1st January 1940 as the New Winter Gardens Cinema with Brian Aherne in “Captain Fury”. It was now operated by Southan Morris’s chain of S.M Super Cinemas. In May 1940, German bombs destroyed the dressing room block, which was originally part of the 1908 theatre. It was closed due to wartime conditions from May 1942 until May 1943 when it re-opened with Abbott & Costello in “Hold That Ghost” and featured organist Florence De Yong at the Compton organ. Stage shows were re-introduced in 1943 and were finally dropped in the early 1950’s.
Films continued and in 1954 S.M. Super Cinemas were sold to the Newcastle based Essoldo chain. The Winter Gardens was equipped with CinemaScope in December 1954 with Richard Burton in “The Robe”. Live shows briefly returned, and then from October 1956 films returned. The Winter Gardens closed as a cinema in January 1959 with Stanley Baker in “The Moonraker” and “John Ericson in "Oregon Passage”.
It re-opened as a Legalite Bingo Club in the mid-1960’s, but they went into receivership a few years later. The building remained empty and unused until it was demolished in 1991. A block of flats Winter Gardens House was built on the site.
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